Individuals targeted by the recent flurry of firearms license (PAL-RPAL) revocations in Quebec
From: Canada’s National Firearms Association (NFA)
To: Individuals targeted by the recent flurry of firearms license (PAL-RPAL) revocations in Quebec
Re: Revocation of Firearms License (PAL-RPAL), based upon allegations of belonging to or being in relation with outlaw biker gangs.
Over the last few days, i.e. around September 24, 2018, the Quebec Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) issued multiple notices revoking the firearms licences of individuals who belong or once belonged to a motorcycle club, in spite of the fact that, by and large, the individuals targeted have no criminal record and do not in any way participate in criminal activities. We are deeply preoccupied with this situation.
In all instances, the reasons stated for the PAL revocation appear to be the same. The CFO has allegedly “determined that these individuals either belong to or are in relation with an outlaw biker gang”.
If you have received such a notice, and you believe that you have done nothing wrong, the following instructions outline the steps to be taken in order to keep your firearms licence. These instructions apply only to individuals in the aforementioned situation.
- You must, within thirty (30) days of your receipt of the Notice of revocation, file a proceeding called a “Reference pursuant to s. 74 of the Firearms Act” with the Court of Quebec, Criminal and Penal Division. In view of the fact that hundreds of such Notices were sent simultaneously, we recommend that you do not wait until the last minute, as there may be multiple individuals who will want to do the same thing at once.
- A FORM OF REFERENCE which you can fill out and use has been put online by the NFA. If, for any reason whatsoever, one of the statements contained in the form does not match your own circumstances, you must amend it accordingly. You may do so manually.
- In order to file the Reference with the Court, you must go to the court house of your judicial district and meet with a Clerk of the Court of Quebec, Criminal and Penal Division, To determine which judicial district you are in and the address of your local court house, you may use the following link:
- Upon filing of the Reference, the Clerk will provide you with a hearing date. This hearing date and other required information must be filled in the Form of Reference. Please make sure that it is duly filled out and that all required signatures appear on the Form.
- The Sworn Declaration (Affidavit) must be signed by you before the Clerk or other person legally authorized to receive an oath.
- The Clerk should send a copy of the Reference to the Chief Firearms Officer. Please ask the question, so that there is no misunderstanding.
- On the date agreed upon with the Clerk, you will be required to appear before the Court. Your name and case number should appear on one of the rolls. On that occasion, please insist upon receiving a document called “Précis des faits” (i.e. “Outline of facts”) from the CFO. That document outlines all specific facts upon which the CFO’s decision is based. It will be in French! Ask that the case be postponed, so that you can review the Précis des faits and prepare your case accordingly. If the Précis des faits is not yet available, ask that it be sent to you well before the new hearing date.
- The NFA is in the process of identifying one or two cases that it will financially support, so that precedents may be set. Should the NFA be able to demonstrate that the CFO’s methods do not meet the requirements of procedural fairness, or are abusive, these precedents will likely be applicable in all cases. The decisions will be published in due course.
- At your hearing, you should point out that your case is part of a group of similar cases, and that precedent-setting lead cases are being tried. Ask the Court to adjourn until those lead cases are decided. The Court will have discretion to adjourn. However, it may want to proceed. Be ready, and have all the documentary evidence that you may want to use, and make sure that your witnesses are available. In that type of case, hearsay is admissible as evidence. Thus, your witnesses may sign a written declaration, instead of appearing in person.
- AS a precaution, we recommend that you make a copy of your firearms license, as well as of your registration certificates. If you have legally held unregistered or yet to be registered firearms, make a detailed list, including serial numbers. Keep that information in a safe place that is distinct from where you keep your originals.
- Take digital pictures of all your firearms, to show their current condition. Should they be seized and lost or damaged, this will serve as proof of their current condition.
- To the extent that you file the Reference within the allotted time, you can keep your firearms and license card. However, you cannot use them or transport them elsewhere. You cannot take them to a range or hunt with them. Nor can you buy a new gun or ammunition. Do not even attempt to do so.
- Make sure that all of your firearms and ammunition are legally stored. It is indeed possible that police will attempt to seize them, or control the legality of their storage.
- If your Reference is successful, The CFO will be forced to reinstate your license, or issue you a new one. However, the decision of the Court of Quebec may be appealed to the Superior Court.
- Even though your licence is revoked, you may still legally dispose of your firearms in favour of another license holder. All restricted firearm transfers must be authorized by the CFO. For non-restricted firearms, make sure that the transferee holds a valid PAL. Preferably, verify with the Canadian Firearms Program (1-800-731-4000) the the Transferee’s PAL is valid. In any event, make a note of the name, PAL number and PAL expiry date of the transferee. Once the provisions of Bill C-71 come into effect, you will have to obtain a Reference Number (no pun intended) from the Canadian Firearms Program, when transferring a non-restricted firearm.
Special considerations for individuals possessing restricted or prohibited firearms
You may have already received or will soon receive a notice revoking your registration certificates. If your Reference is successful, you will likely be required to re-register your restricted/prohibited firearms with the Canadian Firearms Program.
Should you not fully understand these steps, please consult a competent attorney.
For any question, or should you wish to be represented, you may contact Guy Lavergne, Attorney at law, at 514-245-0949. Fees will apply.